The 2016 presidential campaign is heating up, that means it’s time to examine rhetoric coming from specific politicians. Rick Perry ran in 2012 and had his infamous “Oops” moment, but he is not to be counted out in 2016.
Here is what Rick Perry had to say about Pres. Obama just the other night, “eight years of this young, very attractive, amazing orator, Junior US Senator,” is enough. This rhetoric jumped out at me as not particularly effective, at least for a general election argument. Pres. Obama is in the seventh year of his presidency. You might hate and despise every single policy position he’s ever made, but he is by definition no longer too inexperienced for the job.
When Ronald Reagan was president after seven years, I don’t recall leading Democratic presidential candidates giving speeches where they continued to harp on Reagan’s lack of political qualifications or the fact that he had been an actor. Sure, there was still a criticism of Reagan, but it was more likely to be focused on highly specific policies, such as the Iran/Contra scandal.
Obviously, Rick Perry does not have the Republican nomination yet, so he doesn’t have to worry about arguments that appeal to the general electorate. But one of the things that Republican voters are looking for is the ability of a candidate to craft messages that appeal to a majority of voters, because presumably they would like a candidate who can actually win the White House.
I have no doubt that Rick Perry’s audience probably liked his criticisms of Pres. Obama because political audiences normally always like criticism of opposing presidents in power. But it’s still not too soon for voters in both parties to really examine how strong the communication skills are of people who want to lead their party in 2016. And when the country has never been as divided as it is now, when partisanship is as high as it is, and when no one party has a clear lock on the votes of the majority, it’s going to pay party members to find candidates who can craft arguments that appear to be sensible, logical, and fair to voters across the political spectrum.
I believe many in the political establishment underestimate Rick Perry’s political talents, but he’s going to have to show more depth, more growth in his ability to communicate successfully, if he ever wants to overcome the rap that he is too stupid to be president.
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